A NEW and more effective flu vaccine has become available as records show around 960 patients were admitted to intensive care units across the Midlands and East area last winter due to flu.
This compares to 246 admissions in 2016/17, and 190 admissions in 2013/14.
Throughout the 2017/18 season, intensive care unit admissions were seen particularly amongst older adults.
Nationally, the vaccine, available for those aged 65 and over, could reduce GP consultations due to flu by 30,000, hospitalisations by more than 2000 and prevent more than 700 deaths in England.
Across the West Midlands, hundreds of thousands of people aged over 65 could benefit from the improved vaccine.
The ‘adjuvanted’ vaccine is expected to significantly boost effectiveness by improving the body’s immune response.
This is important because typically older adults’ bodies do not respond as well to the flu vaccine due to their naturally weaker immune systems.
Older adults are also more likely to suffer complications from flu.
The vaccine will be available from early October for eligible adults available from their local general practice or pharmacy.
Having the jab before the end of November should protect people before flu reaches its seasonal peak.
As well as getting the vaccine, practising good hand hygiene by catching coughs and sneezes in a tissue, throwing it away and washing your hands after can help limit its spread – catch it, bin it, kill it.